Family Tree DNA, the longest running DNA testing company for family history, has made an exciting change. They will now allow no-cost uploads of DNA to their system from AncestryDNA and 23andMe and provide all matches for free.
Why is this exciting? Because every testing company offers a unique database of individuals who they have tested – and running your DNA against these people means new matches, and new discoveries, for you. Plus, FTDNA provides some very advanced tools and a unique ethnicity report that can be unlocked for a small additional fee.
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In a recent article we took the time to break down the big four genetic genealogy testing companies, comparing them side-by-side to reveal their key differences. While each one of these testing companies – Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage DNA, AncestryDNA and 23andMe – offers a somewhat similar service, each has its own special benefits and weak spots.
This is especially true in the matches you receive (the potential relatives you are matched with) and the ethnicity reports provided. This means that if you’ve taken a DNA test with AncestryDNA or 23andMe, uploading your DNA to FTDNA could provide you with fascinating new information you do not currently have.
Is it really free to upload my DNA and get results from FTDNA?
The answer to this question is yes – and no. Family Tree DNA allows a free upload of your data and will now offer all cousin matches in their system free of charge. This offering could connect you with hundreds of new related individuals you can explore and connect with. They also provide their helpful Matrix tool for free to help you analyze these matches.
However, if you would like access to FTDNA’s other advanced tools, such as their very useful chromosome browser and their ethnicity (ancestry) report, known as MyOrigins, you will have the option to unlock those features for just $19. That’s a pretty great deal for what you get.
How can I upload my DNA to FTDNA?
To upload your DNA you will first need to download your raw DNA file from 23andMe or AncestryDNA. Both of these services make it easy to do so. Find instructions for 23andMe here and AncestryDNA here.
FTDNA does have some limits on what tests will work. They are not currently allowing DNA from MyHeritage (although they plan to in the future) and can only accept the following versions of Ancestry and 23andMe. That means that some people who tested early on (pre 2010) with 23andMe may not be able to take part. It does look like both versions of AncestryDNA are allowed.
- 23andMe© V3 (all matches provided free)
- 23andMe© V4 (all but the most speculative matches provided free)
- AncestryDNA™ V1 (all matches provided free)
- AncestryDNA™ V2 (all but the most speculative matches provided free)
Now, visit this page on Family Tree DNA. If you already have a FTDNA account because you tested for Y DNA or mtDNA in the past you can log in and jump right to uploading.
If you have never tested with FTDNA before, simply create a free account and then upload your raw DNA file.
Either way, once you have uploaded your DNA your results should be back within a day (often less) and you can then choose to simply view your matches for free or pay $19 to unlock the additional features mentioned above. FTDNA offers a help article for this process here.
What if I uploaded my results to FTDNA in the past or have already taken a Family Finder test?
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If you have already taken a Family Finder test you will not be able to upload additional raw DNA, nor would you gain additional information by doing so.
If you uploaded DNA from another company in the past to FTDNA you should find that all of your matches are now unlocked and you will still have the option to upgrade for additional features.
Are there any privacy concerns I should know about?
As outlined in our comparison article on current autosomal DNA tests for genealogy, FTDNA has an exemplary record concerning privacy and we feel comfortable highly recommending their services. You can read more about that, and the concerns that have surfaced with other companies, in that article. Still, it is always very important to carefully review the privacy statement of any company you share personal data with. FTDNA’s privacy statement can be found here.
What if I have never tested my DNA before?
If you’ve never tested your DNA before you will need to do so to take part in any cousin matching or ethnicity reports. As mentioned above, there are four main testing companies who all have strong points, and weaknesses. Read our comparison article here for help deciding. Or you can purchase the Family Finder test from FTDNA right here and get results back in about 4-6 weeks.